IRC to examine impact of massive jobs loss in Libya
Migrant laborers and other expatriates prepare to board a ship going to Greece, from the Libyan harbor in Benghazi. (Photo: Reuters)
The International Rescue Committee will examine the impact of Libya’s ongoing crisis on its economy and workforce, utilizing a unique analytical tool called an Emergency Market Mapping Assessment or EMMA. The assessment will look at how crucial market sectors across the North African nation are being undermined by civil conflict and massive job loss.
Before the civil war began in mid-February, a quarter of Libya’s population of 6.5 million was comprised of foreign workers. Most were guest workers from South Asia and Africa. They were essential to keeping the country running smoothly; whether baking bread, cleaning streets, constructing buildings or ensuring that oil continued to flow. However, the International Organization for Migration estimates that half of Libya ‘s foreign workers—more than three-quarters of a million people—have now fled the country, contributing to an economy that is in shambles. As Libya’s civil war drags on there are growing concerns about the long-term impact of such an enormous exodus of workers. The EMMA will examine this impact in detail.
EMMAs are a recent but increasingly valuable addition tohumanitarian organizations’ toolkit. They are designed to help understand and anticipate sudden changes to market systems following a crisis such as Libya’s civil war. They’ve been viewed as effective in the aftermath of disasters including the 2010 Haitian earthquake and the 2008 Myanmar cyclone.
IRC Emergency Coordinator Daire O’Reilly says Libya does not present a typical humanitarian crisis. “The majority of civilians do have access to basics like water, sanitation, and health services. It is a relatively rich country; so our focus will be on priorities such as employment, women’s rights, and governance.”
O’Reilly says the EMMA will examine the impact of the conflict on agriculture, food production and other key sectors of the economy and labor market. It will also analyze how market prices are being affected and the ability of the Libyan people to purchase food.
The assessment will be conducted in partnership with Mercy Corps and is being funded by the United Nations World Food Programme. It is scheduled to start immediately, and will require a month of evaluation by a team working in eastern Libya.
Speaking from the Libyan city of Benghazi, O'Reilly suggested that western Libya could also benefit from an EMMA. International aid agencies such as the IRC have not yet had access to western parts of the country controlled by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.